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SKAVEN TACTICS

Gareth Hamilton is a long-time Skaven general. His enthusiasm for the ratmen is quite frightening !ut even more horrif"ing is his a!ilit" to #iel$ them on the fiel$ of !attle. Gareth tells us ho# to effe%tivel" fiel$ a Skaven arm" on the ta!leto&. Following the release of the 6th edition of Warhammer, the Skaven hordes terrorizing the gaming tables around the country saw a dramatic decline. To go to a tournament, campaign weekend or even ust a weekly club night and see a Skaven army unleashing its foul machinations upon another race became a rare sight indeed. Such was the dramatic disappearance of the Skaven hordes that many gamers even started to believe that these so called ratmen never e!isted at all and were ust stories created to scare the young and foolish. "ut this is the way of the Skaven, to lie hidden and unnoticed yet all the while plotting and scheming for the ultimate downfall of men and the triumph of the Skaven# $fter over two years of silence, the Skaven have once again returned to the Warhammer world. $long with Warhammer $rmies% Skaven came a new model army &bad pun, sorry' with new, deadly, if not always reliable, machines of destruction. The old ways of fighting with Skaven no longer apply and new cunning tactics must be used if you are to achieve success with the true master race# What follows are some thoughts and ideas ( have developed as ( adapted my army and tactics to the new Skaven list. ( hope at least some of the observations and tactics ( have mentioned will be of use to both budding and e!perienced Skaven generals alike. )ne of the most important things to realise about a Skaven army is that it has no elite troops to speak of. *ven Stormvermin will not match up to your basic +warf ,lansman. -ou cannot create a hard, powerful .blitzkrieg. type unit to punch through enemy units and generally steamroller all over them. &This was a standard /th edition tactic of mine. "ig unit, Fear "anner, $ssassins, Warlord, Skavenbrew, etc. *verything but the kitchen sink went into it. ( am pretty sure that if Skaven had kitchens or sinks then that would have found a place too#'. (n fact you will find that holding your own against even standard troops is not as easy as it sounds, and to break the charge of enemy heavy cavalry &which more often than not have a character leading them' will take luck of the highest order. What you do have in your favour is numbers and, most importantly, e!pendable troops. With e!pendable units used wisely, you can turn aside an enemy charge, pick off weaker units and overwhelm the stronger ones.

'NIT SI(E
The size of units is probably more important in a Skaven army than in any of the other races of the Warhammer world. (t is vital that they are large enough to maintain a reasonable leadership, but not so large as to be an inefficient use of troops. (t is important that in order to gain the advantage of outnumbering your opponent in troops it is vital that you also outnumber him in units as well. (t0s all very well building up huge 123 units, but you need to think to yourself, what benefit are the e!tra troops in your units giving you4 )nce you have three ranks and outnumber the enemy, e!tra troops do nothing to increase your combat ability. (n fact they may hinder your manoeuvrability and be a liability. The best unit size is the minimum re5uired to withstand enemy missile and magic casualties, whilst still maintaining combat effectiveness. The best size for your units depends a great deal on your regular opponents and the usual size they like to field their units. ( find that a unit size of 6/ is about the right amount for my mainstay ,lanrat blocks. When facing an army particularly strong in the Shooting phase, such as *mpire or *lves, it may well be wise to increase this to 72, but that has become the ma!imum size for my units. 8emember, two small units have ust as many troops as one big one. (f the enemy concentrate their fire on one of the units, the other will remain unscathed, and if they divide their fire, each unit will only suffer half the casualties. (f the enemy uses large units, ust make sure you charge into combat with two of yours. )*ig +, $nother potentially very useful advantage of smaller units is that they become more e!pendable. The sacrifice of your troops is something a Skaven general should always be aware of.

'NIT N'-.E/S
Why is it so important that you outnumber your opponent0s units4 Well, as ( mentioned earlier, the Skaven do not have any elite units. So when going against an enemy unit one9on9one, you are going to find it very difficult to win the combat let alone break the enemy. :ery often you will find that you lose a one9on9one combat even when you charged# (f, on the other hand, you have two units to the enemy0s one then you have the opportunity for a flank charge, and this is how the Skaven general can really tip the balance of combat in his favour. )ne of the best ways to ensure that you have more units than the enemy is to force some Slaves into battle for you. These are probably the worst troops in Warhammer and yet they are potentially one of the most useful to the Skaven army. $t 6 points each you can have a unit of twenty for 12 points and that certainly goes a long way to ensure that you have more units than your opponent. So what if Slaves are completely rubbish as fighters 9 they can still pose a threat to the enemy. $ flank charge from a Slave unit is still dangerous enough for your opponent to have to deal with somehow, and against a thin line of archers they can win the combat by ust overwhelming the enemy with their numbers. +on0t bother to e5uip them with anything. ( do not even bother with shields because, as far as ( am concerned, they are not in the battle to fight, but to sacrifice themselves in order to improve your tactical position, and as such need to be as cheap as possible.

$s well as being incredibly cheap, Skaven Slaves are also classed as e!pendable, which makes them doubly useful in a horde army. The Skaven army is fortunate in that it has troop types that are classed as e!pendable. ;nowing that their destruction will not cause panic in your other units makes their use as a sacrificial unit a lot easier. <iant 8at packs, although they do not have the e!pendable rule and are more e!pensive than Slaves, can also be useful sacrificial units. ( would not lightly sacrifice a big 19pack unit at =62 points, so ( will often take a couple of smaller 69pack units. $t 62 points each it hurts a lot less and also gives you a sacrificial unit with a >ovement rate of 6. That e!tra move can at times be very useful in threatening a flank charge or positioning the unit to divert an enemy charge. $lso, they have no standard to give away vital :ictory ?oints, which is a very important factor in choosing sacrificial units.
Notice how Gareth has used the Necromunda Giant Rats to good effect in his Packmaster's Giant Rat unit.

8at Swarms whilst also being listed as e!pendable, are also unbreakable. This makes their use as a sacrificial unit a lot more limited, because very often you need your sacrificial unit to flee# $t 1/ points a base they are also a lot more e!pensive than Slaves or <iant 8ats. They are, however, =22@ reliable and, provided that the unit is big enough, will tie up even a powerful unit long enough to get the ,lanrats in. This is more than can be said of Slaves, who will scamper at the first opportunity unless closely watched over by the general.

(t goes without saying but the choice of your troops will determine what tactics you use in the battle. Aone more so than the <eneral of your army. +o you go for a Warlord or <rey Seer4 The <rey Seer is very e!pensive and will mean you have fewer troops at your disposal but he can make up for this with magic. Death Frenzy cast at the right time can turn your mediocre units into very useful ones. Warp Lightning can whittle down the enemy that is shooting at your rats thus reducing your own casualties, and Pestilent Breath can decimate those frightening heavy cavalry with their potent $rmour Saves. Bowever, for me magic is too unpredictable 9 it can be a complete failure ust as much as a resounding success but most importantly it can be relatively easily countered. +on0t you ust hate +ispel Scrolls#

+espite the cool Skaven magic that the <rey Seer allows access to, my preference has been to go the Warlord route for the following reasons. The points saved on him alone will give you another unit of ,lanrats. Be is also a pretty mean fighter and will certainly boost the fighting potential of any unit he is with, but most importantly he has a one point higher Clan Skryre agent Mulder in the safe Ceadership value than the <rey Seer. Try company as you may, there will be times when your of twenty Stormvermin. opponent outmanoeuvres you and all you can do is take the charge and hope the unit holds. (t is at times like these that you will be glad that you had that e!tra Ceadership and the fighting 5ualities of a Warlord. Baving decided on the Warlord option, you are pretty much forced down the Dhorde. route. -ou will need to defeat the enemy with your troops and that means outnumbering them. Sure you can get zappy with a Warp9lightning cannon, shooty with 8atling guns or backstabby with <utter 8unners, and all these types of units have very important roles to play. Bowever, in the end games are won or lost in the ,lose ,ombat phase. (t will be how well you use your infantry blocks that will ultimately mean victory or defeat and, as ( mentioned earlier, the key weapon for Skaven is outnumbering the enemy. )ne of the main factors determining how many units you have is the numbers of ,lanrat units you field. These mainstay units limit the number of other units you can take, most notably the very cheap Slave and <iant 8at units. For a 6,222 points game ( will try and take at least three, giving me access to three Slave and three <iant 8at units. With nine core infantry blocks ( will be very surprised if anything other than a <oblin army could match you unit for unit. $fter that it really depends on what takes my fancy and the opponents ( may be facing as to the other choices in my army. ( must say, though, that <utter 8unners are always there in one form or another 9 they always have a useful role to play even if it is ust a comedy role as they scuttle off the table at the first sign of danger# So now we have the army chosen, it0s time to develop some tactics to get the best out of them.

)ne of the crucial elements in any game of Warhammer is the deployment of the armies. "y having many more units than the enemy it allows you to hold back the important units until he has committed his troops. The unit ( always deploy last is the 8at Swarm. They have one role in my games and that is to tie up the enemy0s most powerful unit, giving me time to manoeuvre my other units into position for flank charges. The units ( usually deploy first are the ,lanrat units. "eing the core of your army they will very often determine where the enemy places his troops. ( find that with a >ovement of 6, ,lan >oulder units work particularly well together. $ small unit of 8at )gres alongside a large unit of <iant 8ats works well as a team.

,harged in together on one unit, the 8at )gres do the damage whilst the <iant 8ats provide the ranks and outnumbering. Small packs of <iant 8ats are also very useful as flanking forces. $gain ( prefer small units to one large one &once again using the advantage of numbers'. :ery often, one unit can slip by whilst the other engages the enemy0s flank defence. There are several ways to deploy Slave units. Aear the <eneral, alternating with ,lanrat units means they have a Ceadership of =2 9 not bad for a unit as shoddy as Slaves# $way from the <eneral their Ceadership becomes a paltry / &given the chance, wouldn0t you try and escape4' This doesn0t mean they have no use away from the <eneral. For such a cheap unit there are always uses. 0hat follo#s are a fe# i$eas of #a"s "our troo&s &arti%ularl" the e1&en$a!le ones %an !e use$ to im&rove "our &osition an$ give "ou the u&&er han$.

THE /AT T/A2 )see *ig. 3,


For this ploy you use a unit of Slaves to draw enemy units into your charge range. The Slaves are pushed forward towards the enemy battle lines whilst the other units are held =2E &F./E to be safe' from the front line of Slaves and out of charge range of any enemy units. (f the enemy charges the Slaves you have several options depending on the type and speed of the enemy. *lee. This charge reaction is used if the speed of the enemy means a failed charge will bring them into your charge range, ie, cavalry units. Hol$. This option is best against the slower units, the hope being, the Slaves will break. (f the enemy holds then you will be in charge range on your turn. (f he pursues, he risks e!posing his flanks to a charge on your turn. 0arning4 This ploy can often backfire if the Slaves rally, so the position of your <eneral is crucial. The <eneral needs to be over =6E away from the fleeing Slaves otherwise there is a good chance they will rally on Gs, otherwise you need some pretty safe 6s.

THE 5IVE/T )see *ig. 6,


This has become a well9established tactic on Warhammer tables. -ou have offered up the bait in the D8at Trap0 and the enemy has declined to charge the Slaves. (f he tries to avoid them, there is a good chance he will e!pose his flank to a charge from the Slaves. Be may decide to hold and take the charge from the Slaves, confident he will beat them, overrun, and be in a position to charge you on his turn. 0arning4 -ou must not charge with the Slaves# (nstead move in even closer, blocking the unit in. "e careful how you align the Slaves. (f the enemy does charge them, they are sure to win the combat. Bowever, any overrun he may get should, if

properly set up, take him away from any of your units and give you the opportunity for a flank charge.

THE SHIE75 0A77 )see *ig 8,


$ very useful formation if you are fighting an enemy with missile troops but no hills. The Slaves provide a missile screen whilst the ,lanrat units advance up behind them. (n fact, the formation of Slave units in front of ,lanrat units can often be useful as it makes initiating the D8at Trap0 or D+ivert0 relatively easy. Bow you move the Slaves depends on the position of the enemy. (f he has moved into charge range of your Slave units attempt the D+ivert0. (f you move into his charge range, the D8at Trap0 is the option to go for.

THE 7'/E )see *ig. 9,


This is a way that those cheap Slaves can be used away from the core of the army. ?laced on the flanks, a 62 strong unit of Slaves is a threat to any enemy force attempting a flanking manoeuvre. $s they swing round to attack the flanks of your army, they will themselves be e!posing their flanks to your Slaves. This means that the Slaves need to be dealt with, which in turn means any flanking attack will take longer. The turn spent charging the Slaves and then the turn spent repositioning the unit all buys time for the rest of your army to respond. Aot bad for a 12 points unit# Watch out for terror9causing creatures as they can usually safely ignore the Slaves, relying on their terror to keep them off. $lso fast cavalry units can recover position very 5uickly. ( hope ( have been able to give some useful tips on ways a Skaven general can tip the battle in his favour by the careful sacrifice of e!pendable troops. )nce again the time has arrived for the Skaven to e!ecute their cunning plans on the poor unfortunate lesser races of the Warhammer world. So all you Skaven generals get out and swamp the enemy with your hordes. "efore ( go, a word of caution. "eware the best9laid plans of rats and men. *very good Warhammer general knows that a battle plan only lasts until you start deploying your troops. -our opponent will have his own plans and countermeasures. The most successful general is the one who adapts and thinks on his feet &or paws'. <ood gaming#